ARC Review: Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles By J.M. Sullivan

ARC Review: Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles By J.M. Sullivan

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Available: Amazon/B&N/Goodreads/IndieBound

 

**Disclaimer: I received a free copy via NetGalley and Pen Name Publishing in exchange for a honest review. This does not effect my review whatsoever.**

 

NetGalley Description

 

For those who love Alice in Wonderland as much as I do, I highly recommend this book! It has found it’s way to a special place next to my other Alice in Wonderland inspired tales. Question is, are you ready to go into this new twisted world of Wonderland?

 

Rating 9

 

Happy Reading,

~C.C.

ARC Review: “The Marriage Pact” By Michelle Richmond

ARC Review: “The Marriage Pact” By Michelle Richmond

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Release Date: July 25, 2017

Available: Amazon/B&N/Goodreads

Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion whatsoever.

 

NetGalley Synopsis

In this relentlessly paced novel of psychological suspense, New York Times bestselling author Michelle Richmond crafts an intense and shocking tale that asks: How far would you go to protect your marriage?
  
Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.
           
The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . .
           
Never mention The Pact to anyone.
           
Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples.
           
And then one of them breaks the rules.
           
The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule.
           
For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.”

My Review

Marriage. It’s a chilling subject for me these days. Reaching the age where most of your friends are running off, getting married, having kids is frightening to me. This book did not settle my inner fears in the least. In fact, they increased!

Jeremy and Alice are in their late 30s, successful, and have somewhat good heads on their shoulders. Told through Jeremy’s perspective, he admits in the beginning that the subject of marriage was his idea. Alice, mourning the loss of her father, sparked one of the most important questions any man/woman/etc. could ever ask someone. “Will you marry Me?”

The moment Alice agrees, a chain of events begin starting with their wedding announcement. Alice’s best client in her firm, Finnegan, receives word of the couple’s plans and invites Jeremy and Alice to join him in the secret society known as, “The Pact”. A wooden box arrives on their doorstep with instructions to which they are prohibited to open the box until after their honeymoon. Fast forward, one of Finnegan’s contacts the leaders of “The Pact” and they send a woman by the name of Vivianne to be the couple’s “Host” as she leads Jeremy and Alice into the society.

“The Pact” in it of itself has their own manual the couples need to memorize and live by. If they break the rules, they receive various punishments ranging from silly to severe. And when I say severe, I mean torture, electric shock, unremovable metal braces placed around women’s necks in order to keep them straight, and more. Jeremy and Alice start their journey into this cult, plunging themselves into a world filled with terror and nowhere to run and no way out.

This novel freaked me out in the worst way. If you follow me on Goodreads, read my notes on the book! One moment, I believed Jeremy was falling for the insane punishments “The Pact” was putting his wife through. Then it was as if Alice and Jeremy switched personalities pertaining to the cult! The ending, though, did not live up to the expectations of the novel. It felt rushed and dry, leaving me to wonder what happened to Alice and Jeremy next. As far as I know, this is a standalone novel so I guess we’ll all wonder if they survive……

For a psychological thriller, it’ll keep you on your toes for sure. The writing is solid, but the characters backstories were a bit wonky at times. One moment, you are giving the impression you needed to feel sorry for them while the next you were told they were independent. But, learning from this novel, never accept a wooden box from an Irishman who claims to want the best for your marriage.

 

Rating 7

 

Happy Reading,

~C.C.

 

 

C.B.H. ARC Reviews: “Final Girls” By Riley Sager

C.B.H. ARC Reviews: “Final Girls” By Riley Sager

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Release Date: July 11, 2017

Available: Amazon/B&N/Goodreads

Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review whatsoever.

 

Goodreads Synopsis

“Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.”

 

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Quincy Carpenter picked up the pieces of her life after surviving a massacre at her friend’s party in a cabin in the woods. With the killer dead, she has no need to fear any possible future of him coming back for her. The media follows up with her, giving her the label “Final Girl”, adding her alongside two other young women who survived terrible massacres too. Quincy, though, does not want to live in the spotlight, especially since her mind has blocked her memories of the events of that dark night. The police question her periodically to see if her memories resurface; however, Quincy remains silent in also wondering what truly happened as well.

Now, she has what she thinks is a pleasant, comfortable life, but then Lisa, another massacre survivor, ends up being found mysteriously murdered. The very next day, Quincy finally meets another “Final Girl”, Sam, who at first, seems to only wish to get to know Quincy. The more time Quincy spends time with Sam, the more Sam questions Quincy’s past and her memories of that night. Sam wants Quincy to not to live comfortably in the dark….but why?

Final Girls is a brilliantly crafted thriller for the new age. It takes the question of  “What happens next?” and blows it up to create this world that thrives on digging into these poor girls’ tragic pasts and transforming them into celebrities who merely want to be normal again. Only they cannot be normal ever again nor can they hide from the cameras. These “Final Girls” have secrets and they are about to be exposed, but who will truly be the surviving “Final Girl” in the end?

 

Rating 10

Happy Reading!

~C.C.

 

 

C.H.B. ARC REVIEWS: “Birthright” By Jessica Ruddick (The Legacy Series B.1)

C.H.B. ARC REVIEWS: “Birthright” By Jessica Ruddick (The Legacy Series B.1)

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Available: Amazon/B&N/Goodreads

**Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy courtesy of NetGalley and Penguin House in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review whatsoever.**

 

Goodreads Description

How do you live with yourself when you decide who dies?

Ava Parks would have killed for an iPod for her sixteenth birthday. Anything would have been better than coming into her birthright of being a seeker for the Grim Reaper, an arrangement made by her fallen angel ancestor in exchange for his re-admittance to heaven. And she isn’t just any seeker—she finds souls that have the potential for becoming angels and sentences them to death. A year and two souls into her role as a seeker with her conscience overflowing with guilt, Ava comes up with a plan to thwart the system. When it goes awry, she is forced to submit the name of a classmate, Cole Fowler, an ornery, rough around the edges guy who always seems to come to her rescue, whether she likes it or not. Her feelings for Cole prompt her to intervene, and she saves him from death, upsetting the Grim Reaper’s agenda.

While Ava schemes to find a way to save Cole, she learns he has some secrets of his own. She lets him believe he is protecting her, and not the other way around, until a final showdown with the Grim Reaper forces Ava to make choices Cole may never forgive.”

 

Author Jessica Ruddick gives us a different take on the normal Grim Reaper story. Normally, we are led to believe the Grim Reaper works alone, collecting souls of the dead to transport them to heaven or hell. In this version, the Grim Reaper (actually multiple reapers) have seekers searching for specific people to choose for certain tasks.

 

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For Ava, she determines the most innocent of souls for the Grim Reaper to collect in order to create Heaven’s heavenly angel army. Her and her mother come from a long line of seekers who are sent to different locations in order to pick out the innocents for the Grim Reapers. Ava doesn’t wish to continue this heavy burden any longer and is willing to do anything she can in order to back out of her duties. One of which, was an attempt to take her own life only to discover, hah, she can not die! Yeah, this girl along with her mother are practically immortal until Death decides her time is up. Also she has what I like to call a “Crowley” in her life who gives her assignments and is practically the major authority who has the ability to punish her if deemed necessary.

 

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I call him “Crowley” because, well, if you watch the show Supernatural, he practically IS him!

But now Ava runs into a bit of a problem in the new town her and her mother has moved into. A love interest in the form of Cole Fowler saves her life, foiling her suicide attempt and ends up moving to the forefront in our little tale.  I’ll admit, he’s a breath of fresh air compared to the most recent YA male love interest tropes of today. He owns the bad boy air about him but carries his own without being overbearing, whiny, or pushy. He’s the kind of character who does not have to be a love interest but even a brother-like character if need be. Personally, I’d choose him to be the brotherly kind due to the fact he is not the average love interest.

The story brings a pleasant twist to the average Grim Reaper story, adds a new kick to the YA paranormal genre, and gives girls a reliable female protagonist who fights for what she wants instead of merely talking about it. I believe this new series will spark a new brand of followers to the YA community, and I am thrilled I had the honor to read this story. I happily look forward to the second chapter in The Legacy Series.

My Rating: 9 out of 10 Book Charms!

 

Happy Reading!

~C.C.

C.H.B. ARC Reviews: “If I Run” By Terri Blackstock

C.H.B. ARC Reviews: “If I Run” By Terri Blackstock

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Available: Amazon/Goodreads/B&N

**Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy via NetGalley and Zondervan Fiction in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review whatsoever.**

Goodreads Description

Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they have failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested . . . or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.

But what is the truth? That’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bringing Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up. Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run?

Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices. The girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.”

 

I have not read a Terri Blackstock novel since high school. Even now when I read this novel, it reminded me how insanely talented of a storyteller Blackstock is. Each of her novels are crafted to keep you on the edge of your seat, wanting to uncover more evidence to solve the mystery she presents us with. This book is no exception. We bounce between the two perspectives. One from Casey Cox and the other from investigator Dylan Roberts.

When Casey Cox discovers her best friend, Brent, dead on his floor. She quickly gathers her resources and goes on the run. Despite not going to the police about what she discovered, she believes the police will immediately pin his murder on herself. But Casey is not stupid. She always finds a way to cover her tracks wherever she goes.

On the other end of the spectrum, Dylan Roberts is hired to track Casey down and take her into custody. He faces his own personal demons during his investigation through his PTSD flashbacks from being overseas. Although he battles these, he continues to attempt to uncover the clues behind Brent’s death and Casey’s disappearance.

This book is not for those who are not interested in Christian Fiction. I understand there are readers who would be bothered by this type of writing; however, I enjoy it. Even if you would not mind it, the mystery is thrilling enough. The ending is swift and leaves you hanging, waiting for the sequel but it could have been written a little better. Other than this, the book is wonderful and I highly recommend it.

 

My Rating: 8 out of 10 Book Charms

 

Happy Reading!

~C.C.

 

 

 

 

ARC Reviews: “Beautiful Broken Girls” By Kim Savage

ARC Reviews: “Beautiful Broken Girls” By Kim Savage

Title: Beautiful Broken Girls

Author: Kim Savage
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
Release Date: February 21st, 2017

*Discalimer: I received a copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Macmillan Publishing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review whatsoever.*

 

Sisters, Francesca and Mira, are found dead at the bottom of a quarry. Their deaths were ruled as suicide, but Mira’s ex-boyfriend Ben believes there is more to the story than meets the eye. About a week after their death, Ben receives a cryptic letter in the mail sent by Mira the day of her death. She sends him on a scavenger hunt, searching for hidden notes giving clues as to why they are truly gone. What seemed to be a mystery unravels into a path filled with secrets, insane religious practices, and a story not involving only two deaths….but three.

My Review

The story jumps back and for between the past before the girls were dead then the present with Ben trying to solve it all, with Mira’s clues being his only guide. I’m going to be up front and say this book did not turn out the way I expected. In more ways than one, I believed the story would go deeper into the scandal lingering behind the scenes involving Francesca.

Francesca has it in her mind she is a saint because she has these mysterious makes that appear on her hands. She seeks out her Catholic church counselor, but she has other plans in mind other than having him guide her. She becomes obsessed with becoming a saint and causing her counselor to fall in love with her. Her counselor leads her on, in a way, to continue her “path to becoming a saint”. She starves herself, puts herself through her own version of hell by donating the majority of her time volunteering at homeless shelters, and goes through these seizures deemed as “ecstasy”.

There were too many questions left unanswered. I needed more, DESERVED more! The ending left me so mad I almost threw my iPad across the room. The fact they also hinted that the girl’s father could have been involved in a lot of sketchy stuff left me wondering why we didn’t get more dirt on him. With a story beginning with a big question, it left even more in the end than answered.

For that I would say it deserves a sequel but more than likely, we won’t receive that….

 

My Rating: 6 out of 10 Book Charms

 

 

Happy Reading!

~C.C.

 

C.H.B. ARC Review: Give Me a K-I-L-L By R.L. Stine

C.H.B. ARC Review: Give Me a K-I-L-L By R.L. Stine

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Available: Amazon; Goodreads

**Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy of this book via NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review whatsoever.**

Ok, where should I start? I’m extremely frustrated with this book. Like I said in my past post about my thoughts about the Fear Street Revival series, I had high expectations for the reincarnation of the memorable long running late 80s/90’s thriller book series. Had. I understand when a writer is used to writing in a certain fashion that earns them best-seller credits, they stick with it. But writing, technology, and teenagers have changed since the 90s. What I have read screams 90s and the kids are stuck there with a few of the technological advances of today but do not show they are part of the present. Give Me a K-I-L-L reminded me of the old Fear Street novels but it lacks the proper planning, age-fitting dialogue, and lacked the foundation the original novels laid down.

The Original Cheerleaders

 

R.L. Stine is no stranger to penning tales of cheerleaders with a taste for horror. I highly recommend readers to read the original books if you are thinking about reading the revival  “cheerleader” book. I still hope one day the Fear Street series will be transformed into an anthology series and these books will be transported to the screen because this specific story line in this series is one that sparks terror into the imagination. It has possession, evil spirits, mysterious deaths, and secrets-everything you could hope for.

Alas, the revival book has NOTHING to do with the these books. Yeah, nothing. Give Me a K-I-L-L surrounds the story of Gretchen (name now changed to Heather Wyatt) transferred to Shadyside High from her old school where she was the star of her cheerleading squad. Only she’s finding out quickly that it won’t be so easy to receive a spot on Shadyside’s cheerleading squad. Not if the spoiled little rich girl Devra Dalby has anything to say about it.

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I admire Stine for adding two twists to this book but it does not excuse the fact it has nothing to do with the old Cheerleader books. I wished it did because it would have re-awakened my faith in this revival series! This review would have been more positive…..and ecstatic…but why, why did he have to do this? The main character treats her mother like trash, Devra Dalby is true to the spoiled little rich girl stereotype, the end result predictable, and the romantic aspect made me feel uncomfortable.

My question is: Where did my Fear Street go?

 

My Review: 3 out of 10 Book Charms

 

Happy Reading!

~C.C.